Former Ecuadorian President Denounces His Country’s Treatment Of Julian Assange As ‘Torture’

'Without communications to the outside world and visits from anyone, the government is basically attacking Julian's mental health,' Rafael Correa said.

correa assange ecuador
Frank Augstein / AP Images

'Without communications to the outside world and visits from anyone, the government is basically attacking Julian's mental health,' Rafael Correa said.

Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador, denounced his country’s treatment of Julian Assange as “basically torture.”

In an exclusive interview with The Intercept, Correa said the following.

“Denial of visitors is a clear violation of his rights. Once we give asylum to someone, we are responsible for his safety, for ensuring humane living conditions. Without communications to the outside world and visits from anyone, the government is basically attacking Julian’s mental health.”

In March, 2018, Ecuador’s London embassy, in which the WikiLeaks founder has been living in since 2012, cut his communications following social media comments.

“The measure was adopted in the face of Assange’s failure to comply with a written commitment he assumed with the government at the end of 2017, under which he was obliged not to issue messages that would interfere with other states,” Ecuador’s government said in a statement supplied to Reuters.

A source close to WikiLeaks told Reuters that the Ecuadorian government prevented Assange from communicating over the phone and the internet. Apart from that, according to the same source, Ecuador’s government also instructed embassy officials to refuse to allow Assange’s visitors to enter the embassy.

Julian Assange was instructed to erase a tweet about Catalonia, and to stop tweeting about the autonomous community altogether. After refusing to comply with Ecuadorian government’s requests, the WikiLeaks founder was punished, Reuters reported.

In June, 2012, Julian Assange entered the building of Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning about allegations of sex crimes. Ecuador’s current president, Lenin Moreno, has described Assange as “a stone in our shoe.”

Former president Rafael Correa denounced Moreno’s actions, citing Ecuador’s legal obligations under international law. During the 2016 U.S. election, Correa’s own government briefly suspended Assange’s internet connection, claiming his attacks on Hillary Clinton were becoming excessive.

julian assange ecuador sweden uk us
  Tim Hales / AP Images

“But that was just temporary,” Correa told The Intercept. “We never intended to take away his internet for an extended period of time. That is going way too far.”

Correa’s successor, Lenín Moreno, recently signed an agreement focused on security cooperation with the United States. According to Correa, “this agreement with the U.S. means control, intervention, spying.” This is why the former president of Ecuador believes his country’s government could submit to American and British demands regarding Assange.

British Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan described Assange as a “miserable little worm,” according to Reuters.

Mike Pompeo “explicitly threatened speech and press freedoms,” The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald wrote, describing then U.S. President Donald Trump’s CIA director and now his secretary of state’s April speech. Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

Assange’s mother, Christine, told Sky News that her son hasn’t had fresh air or proper medical care for five years, which has caused his health to deteriorate.

Correa told The Intercept that Swedish and British governments, and not the Ecuadorian government, are to blame for the fact that the investigation is not proceeding.

“We don’t agree with everything Assange has done or what he says. And we never wanted to impede the Swedish investigation. We said all along that he would go to Sweden immediately in exchange for a promise not to extradite him to the U.S., but they would never give that. And we knew they could have questioned him in our embassy, but they refused for years to do so.”

Correa claims that the current government is bound by domestic and international law to protect Julian Assange’s safety and well-being.

Discussing his tiny London sanctum, Assange told the New Yorker, “the walls of the Embassy are as familiar as the interior of my eyelids. I see them, but I do not see them.”